Once in a lifetime experience for theSkyNet citizen scientist

Nov 05, 2012

Last week the top contributor to citizen science initiative theSkyNet travelled to the heart of the West Australian outback to visit the future site of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.

Mr Kim Hawtin, top contributor to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) project, was awarded this rare opportunity as part of theSkyNet's first anniversary celebrations in September.

ICRAR Outreach and Education Manager Pete Wheeler said that theSkyNet allowed members of the public to donate computing power to process astronomy observations of distant galaxies and enormous simulated data sets.

"The key to theSkyNet is having lots of computers connected, with each contributing only a little, but the sum of those computers achieving a lot," he said.

Mr Wheeler said that Mr Hawtin's contribution has been an important part of theSkyNet's overall processing capacity.

Mr Hawtin spent last Wednesday touring the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory on a whirlwind trip 800km North of Perth to Mid West WA. The remote and extremely radio-quiet site will one day host the low frequency portion of the SKA and is already home to two other world-class .

During his tour of the MRO Mr Hawtin was introduced to scientists and engineers working at the site and given a unique tour of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope and CSIRO's Australian SKA Pathfinder which was launched early last month.

"It was a great trip," said Mr Hawtin, who is from South Australia. "I didn't get involved in theSkyNet for the rewards, but I have to admit this opportunity was amazing. I even got to climb inside one of the ASKAP telescope dishes and point it towards the sky."

"I've read a lot about the SKA and radio astronomy in the Murchison, but you can't really understand the scale of it until you get there and see the telescopes in action. It's mind-blowing how much they're going to achieve," he said.

In just over a year theSkyNet has attracted 8,000 members from all around the world and completed over 1.6 billion processing jobs, equating to approximately 11 million CPU hours. This is more than a year of dedicated CPU time on an average 1,000 node supercomputer.

"Without enthusiastic members like Mr Hawtin, theSkyNet wouldn't be nearly as successful," said Mr Wheeler.

"In the first year alone contributions from our thousands of members around the world has meant that more than 9 terabytes of information has been processed for our scientists and their research. We're incredibly grateful for this support and see theSkyNet as a collaboration between our members and ICRAR's scientists."

Explore further: Planet 'reared' by four parent stars

More information: www.theskynet.org/

Provided by International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Community computing project TheSkyNet launched

Sep 14, 2011

A community computing science initiative to help discover the hidden Universe was officially launched yesterday at Curtin University by Western Australia's Minister for Science and Innovation, the Hon. John Day.

TheSkyNet set to conquer more of our universe

May 03, 2012

In its ever-expanding quest to process astronomy data and discover much more of our Universe, theSkyNet has joined forces with the Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium (PS1SC) to probe other galaxies beyond our own Milky Way.

Scoping the cost of the world's biggest new supercomputer

Feb 22, 2012

The world's most powerful telescope – the new Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – is likely to need the world's biggest computer to handle the incredible amount of data it will produce − and the International Centre ...

Recommended for you

'Planck' puts Einstein to the test

1 hour ago

Researchers, including physicists from Heidelberg University, have gained new insights into dark energy and the theory of gravitation by analysing data from the "Planck" satellite mission of the European ...

Distant supernova split four ways by gravitational lens

2 hours ago

Over the past several decades, astronomers have come to realize that the sky is filled with magnifying glasses that allow the study of very distant and faint objects barely visible with even the largest telescopes.

Planet 'reared' by four parent stars

21 hours ago

Growing up as a planet with more than one parent star has its challenges. Though the planets in our solar system circle just one star—our sun—other more distant planets, called exoplanets, can be reared ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.